It looks as though the first batch of my delicious looking vegetables is ready to be consumed. I was very excited. Until I actually pulled out the food.
SO…it turns out you have to catch broccoli at just the right time to harvest it. It was looking beautiful for a few days. I went away for the weekend and BOOM it turned into a bouquet of flowers. We did eat it – the measly fraction of food that we got was quite good (and learning that we eat the flower buds of the plant was something new) but nowhere near enough to create even a side dish. I am hoping that it will put out side shoots now that the main part is cut off. New seedlings have been started for a fall crop. Fingers crossed for greater success!
I also decided to figure out how much broccoli I was going to need for my future farm. Assuming we eat about 2 heads of broccoli every other week and that each plant takes up about 2×2 feet in space…I will need 312 sqft or 0.007 acres.
I also figured I would look up heirloom broccoli (for the future…I need to get my mutated, inbred, hybrid, beginner’s broccoli working first). Apparently there are 2 types of heirloom broccoli:
a) True Broccoli – must overwinter to grow a head of broccoli. But the plants generally won’t survive the winter unless grown in zone 7 or warmer. I am in zone 6. Damn. A hoop tunnel or cold frame might work. Seems like more work but check out how amazing these look:
b) Calabrese – will produce a head of broccoli in the same year as planted. There are still heirloom varieties of this.
To grow both varieties (recall the ‘true’ variety won’t produce every year) I would need closer to 468 sqft or 0.01 acres.
I was super pumped as I began to pull up one of my potato plants. I only got 3 small potatoes on the whole plant so my enthusiasm was soon squashed. I looked up how to increase potato yields and turns out I was planting them wrong. Turns out you are suppose to create a deep trench and place seed potatoes in the bottom, as leaves appear on the plant, you add more dirt/leaves/grass clippings, leaving only the top of the plant visible. Eventually you create this hill or mount of potatoes and that is how you get multiple potatoes on one plant. I had just put them in the ground. Opps. Apparently Matt Daemon can grow potatoes on Mars but I cannot grow them in my backyard. Here is an interesting way to build a ‘spud box’ that I might have to try in the future:
Even if I had managed to get more ACTUAL potatoes, they were diseased. YEAH! *sigh*. The skin looked a bit weird on them. Nothing alarming…but just a bit thicker with weird swirls. Looked it up: Potato scab. Caused by bacteria in my soil. Once again bacteria seem to rule my life (I was a microbiologist before kids). Dr. Google recommends buying specifically prepped starter potatoes to ensure you don’t contaminate your soil. I used the ones I got at the grocery store. So now my soil is permanently shit. I read that I can acidify my soil to help grow potatoes but given that I currently has a limited space and that most other plants do not like acidic soil, potatoes might not be the best bet in the future. I also read here that you can expose seed potatoes to sunlight to eliminate scab.
One day when I can magically grow potatoes, I figure I need about 7 potatoes per week. At an average yield of 5 potatoes per plant which each plant needing about 3 square feet of growing space, I will need about 234 square feet or 0.005 acres of potatoes.
More lessons learned: when turnips bolt (aka make flowers), they taste LIKE CRAP. I had 1 turnip (out of about 6) that did not bolt. It tasted fine and was very pretty and fun to pick out of the garden. The rest went straight into the green bin. BARF. I do not honestly consume very many turnips and planted these more to experiment with food that you can plant very early in the year. I was also curious to try making turnip pancakes. Funny enough I heard about turnip pancakes in a children’s book I grabbed from the library for my daughter and was surprised when I looked it up and it was a real thing. I will get another chance to plant them in the fall so I will try again then!